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Emmet-Spiceland (1966-1970, 1973)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

In the mid-1960s, Donal Lunny, Brian Bolger, and Mick Maloney formed The Emmet Folk Group. The name Emmet-Spiceland came about when Mick Maloney left the band to join The Johnstons and Brian and Donal teamed up with Michael and Brian Byrne from Sheffield's Spiceland Folk shortly before winning the Wexford Ballad contest in 1967. (In the previous year the Emmet Folk had come second to The Johnstons). For a while the group was a quartet.

The Byrnes' father, Tommy, was a Feis Ceoil winner three years running in the Thirties. However, Brian Bolger left the band within a short time and they continued as a trio. The Wexford success led to a recording deal and in February of 1968 their Mary from Dungloe topped the Irish singles chart. Noted for their tight harmony arrangements, the band went on to success with their recordings of Baidin Feidhlimuid (1967) and Tá na Báid.

In late 1968, the boys made a push for international fame when they signed with the British label, Page One Records. Larry Page, at the time boss of Page One, felt the combination of Emmet Spiceland and hit song writers Phil Coulter and Bill Martin made an unbeatable combination. At the time, the band's bookings were being handled by Brian Molloy of the Tom Costello Organization. In 1968, Page One also boasted The Troggs and Vanity Fare among its artist ranks. On Saturday, November 2nd, the band headlined a concert at the National Stadium in Dublin which also included singer Ann Byrne, the Cotton Mill Boys, Maxi, Dick and Twink and the Ryecatchers.    

In 1969, Leo O'Kelly, who had been playing with the Tropical Showband from the age of 14 through 19, joined the band, replacing Donal Lunny who had reportedly "given up music to concentrate on his art." When Donal left, he was the last remaining member of the original Emmett Folk Group to depart. The trio did several tours over the next year, but their final tour (of the United States) featured Donal back in the band after Michael decided not to make the trip.

They broke up after the tour with Leo going on to form Tir na Nog in 1970. Meanwhile, Donal focused on making jewelry for a time until he was ask by Christy Moore to play on the landmark album, Prosperous. The musicians who played on the album would go on to form the legendary Planxty, at which point Donal gave up jewelry making for good.  

Brian Byrne went on to achieve fame in the London production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

In 1973, an article in the August 23 issue of Spotlight announced Emmet Spiceland was being re-launched with Brian Byrne as lead vocalist. The band debuted in Carlow and along with Brian, featured a new lineup: the late Paul Ashford (who had just left the Miami) on bass, 18 year old Honor Heffernan (fresh off her appearance in Jesus Christ Superstar on guitar and flute), and Mick Carrass (formerly of Sandie Jones' Boyfriends) on guitars. To coincide with the band's launch, their single Mary from Dungloe was re-released and Brian's album "Brian Byrne" was also on release at the time. We are not sure how long this lineup of the band lasted, but it probably wasn't long as Paul Ashford was soon a part of Cahir O'Doherty's Dazzle Band in 1974.   

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Emmet Spiceland-1967 Emmett Spiceland-67 Emmet-Spiceland-67(BA) Emmet-Spiceland (BA) Emmet-Spiceland-68 (BA)
Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland (LR) Emmet-Spiceland-69 (BA) Leo joins the band
Emmet Spiceland (RF) Emmet Spiceland (RF) Emmet Spiceland (RF) Emmet Spiceland (RF) Emmet Spiceland (RF)
Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1969 Emmet Spiceland-1968
 
Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1968 Emmet Spiceland-1973 Coming Soon
     
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Emmet Spiceland - 68 Emmet Spiceland - 68

Lineup Changes
 

Years Vocals/Guitar/Bouzouki Vocals/Banjo/Mandolin Vocals/Banjo/Mandolin Vocals/Guitar/etc.
1965-Emmet Folk Donal
Lunny
Mick
Maloney
  Brian
Bolger
1967 Donal
Lunny
Michael
Byrne
Brian
Byrne
Brian
Bolger
1967 Donal
Lunny
Michael
Byrne
Brian
Byrne
 
1969 Leo
O'Kelly
Michael
Byrne
Brian
Byrne
 
1969 (final tour) Leo
O'Kelly
Donal
Lunny
Brian
Byrne
 
1973 - Come back
Revamped lineup
Paul
Ashford (bass)
Mick
Carrass (guitars)
Brian
Byrne
Honor
Heffernan

Record Releases (incomplete list):

Singles:

Mary from Dungloe / Hava Nagila - #1 Irish Charts
Inset Records - IN.702 - 1968
Baidin Fheidhlimi /Nora Bheag - #6 Irish Charts
Gael Linn Records - CES.002 - 1968
Bunclody / Lowlands Low - #8 Irish Charts 
Page One Records - POF 089 - 1968
So Long Marianne / In Search of Franke
Page One Records - POF 143 - 1969
One Morning in May / The Willow*
Hawk Records - Hasp 328 - 1973

*This single was released when Honor Heffernan was in the reformed group with Brian Byrne and Paul Ashford)

Album:

The First
Hawk Records - HALP 166 - 1968

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Donal Lunny: Donal became one of the most influential musicians on the Irish and eventually the International music scene. After leaving the band, he joined with Christy Moore to form the groundbreaking traditional band, Planxty, creating a sound that would change the Irish Traditional music scene forever. Through the years he has played with a wide range of top musicians, continuing to spread the influence of Irish music across the world. Today, he continues to tour and play on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world.  
Mick Maloney: After leaving the band, Mick joined The Johnstons who enjoyed enormous success at home and abroad. After a trip to Philadelphia in 1973, Mick went to the States to study folklore at the University of Pennsylvania. Although Mick had always expected to return to Ireland, he never did and carved out a musical career for himself in the folk circles of the States, where he still lives and plays today.   
Brian Bolger: Our thanks to Kieran McGregor who writes to tell us Brian is now prominent in a band in Montpellier France called Murphy. The band has been running for more than twenty years. We were also able to find online a reference that Brian now owns a wine shop called Catharsun in Montpellier, France. There is a note on the site that states, "Brian Bolger, Irish and living in the Languedoc for the past thirty years."
 
Michael Byrne: Unknown. If you know more, please let us know.
Leo O'Kelly: Leo joined Tir na nOg after leaving the band and enjoyed many years of success with them. Today, Leo plays mostly solo and with his long time friend, bassist Garvan Gallagher, and increasingly lately, with Sonny in some glorious Tir na nOg performances. Leo lives in Dublin with his wife and their six year old son. Another song from Leo's Glare album, "On My way Home" is to feature in a new movie release, titled "Trouble With Sex"... Work has started on Leo's third album...
Honor Heffernan: After playing with different artists during the 70's, Honor's career turned to Jazz in 1983 when she was invited by Shay Healy to join the Jim Doherty Trio in an experimental programme, where musicians from different backgrounds performed together. The experience lead to long associations with renowned jazz musicians Jim Doherty, Noel Kelehan and Louis Stewart, and many more of Irelands leading jazz musicians including drummer Stephen Keogh who produced her latest album “ Fire and Ice “. Since then she has earned a reputation as Ireland 's leading Jazz singer.
Brian Byrne: Unknown. If you know more, please let us know.
Mick Carrass:  Unknown. If you know more, please let us know.
Paul Ashford - RIP:   After leaving the Miami, Paul joined Emmet Spiceland for a short time before a spell with Cahir O'Doherty's Dazzle Band in the mid 70's. He played with Stepaside with Robbie Brennan in the late 70's, as well as The Furey Brothers and Dave Arthur, Mike Hanrahan from Stockton's Wing, Ronnie Drew and spent two years touring with Jerry Lee Lewis. Paul had numerous song writing credits along with his own records (One In Every Town, Jenny, etc.). He played bass with Paul Brady, Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits, Joe Elliot of Def Leppard, Dolores Keane and Barbara Dickson, as well as numerous sessions. Sadly he passed away January 10, 2011.


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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006